One Gay Man's Russia

Published: November 14, 2013

 In the comfortable second-floor meeting space of Dupont Circle’s Le Mirch restaurant Wednesday evening, Nov. 13, the conversation had zero to do with anything so pleasant as fine dining. Instead, a small handful of organizers tried to give a group of about 20 locals better insight into the situation for LGBT people in Russia.

 
That insight began with a clip of Masha Gessen speaking with Euronews. The Russian-American, lesbian journalist, author of 2012’s The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, was explaining why she and her family fled Russia to relocate in the United States.
 
”If it goes to the floor, it will pass,” Gessen told Euronews as her young child sat on her lap, referring to a legislator’s promise to draft legislation aimed at prohibiting gay people from parenting. ”They’re going to go after the kids.” Gessen detailed her rationale in an Aug. 10 piece for The Guardian titled, ”As a gay parent I must flee Russia or lose my children.”
 
From clip to first person, the event moved to Viacheslav ”Slava” Revin, a gay, HIV-positive Russian man seeking asylum in the United States following abuse and threats from Russian authorities due to his activism in that country. In August, Revin came to D.C. from New York, where he was living temporarily, having arrived in the U.S. in July. At the time, Revin spoke to The DC Center’s ”Center Global” group, with Larry Poltavtsev, president of the McLean-based Spectrum Human Rights organization serving as translator, and asked that his name not be included due to his immigration status. Revin has since relocated to Washington, where Patrick Forrest and his husband, Andy Monaco, have offered him temporary housing. More importantly, perhaps, Forrest, an attorney, is drafting Revin’s asylum request pro bono, adding that Revin’s history of activism makes masking his identity pointless. Forrest also pointed out that Revin has been taking English classes regularly. 

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